The Associated Press said Thursday it will not distribute images or audio of the Quran-burning demonstration planned for Saturday evening by a Gainesville, Fla., church.
"Should the event happen on Saturday, the AP will not distribute images or audio that specifically show Qurans being burned, and will not provide detailed text descriptions of the burning," deputy managing editor Thomas Kent wrote in a memo to AP staff. "With the exception of these specific images and descriptions, we expect to cover the Gainesville event, in all media, placing the actions of this group of about 50 people in a clear and balanced context."
The announcement came amid a larger effort by the AP to standardize its coverage of the issue, which has drawn national media attention and opposition from President Obama and other leaders.
The memo noted that the wire service will run "ONE main spot story" on the event and its run-up per day, and emphasized that "at the moment [the issue] is a proposal by a tiny group that may or may not happen."
Kent, who is responsible for the AP's editorial standards, explained that the decision not to release images or audio is consistent with the wire's approach to covering other difficult or offensive situations.
"AP policy is not to provide coverage of events that are gratuitously manufactured to provoke and offend," Kent wrote. "In the past, AP has declined to provide images of cartoons mocking Islam and Jews. AP has often declined to provide images, audio or detailed descriptions of particularly bloody or grisly scenes, such as the sounds and moments of beheadings and shootings, displays of severed heads on pikes and images of hostages who are displayed by hostage-holders in an effort to intimidate their adversaries and advance their cause. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."
The full memo can be found here.